In 1943, during the worst days of the war in Europe, Edmond Roudnitska created, and dedicated to his wife, a beautiful and intensely floral fragrance called Femme. The French word femme means woman. The designer’s audience was obvious, as was his timing. World War II was a period of great blackness and despair, of enormous heaviness for women, immense responsibility, and personal loss.
Roudnitska’s place of work was nestled in the turmoil of war and rubble. It was not set amongst big windows filled with sunlight and inspiration. Its birthplace was not picturesque, nor did it make your eyes soften with storybook wishes. Femme was crafted in a building with a dump for war debris on one side, and a paint factory on the other.
The dump provided utterly no inspiration. Rather, it was a constant reminder of the reality of war—destruction, gathered up and abandoned as garbage. Its lingering questions floated on the air: Could anything ever be restored? Will anything ever be the same?
Meanwhile, from the other side the paint factory exuded smells of chemicals in direct competition with the right mix of ingredients for Edmond Roudnitska’s unforgettable fragrance.
So too for us. As odors come from the next door of our lives, we are tempted to question the moment. In the release of our personal absolute (pure) fragrance we surrender to the pull of the enemy’s voice. We ask ourselves: Is this the moment, the place, the person, or the time that God wants me to share? Is this God’s voice? We succumb to doubt. We stand still and are silent.
How often have I done that in my life? Only eternity will tell how many missed moments have passed me by, how many chances to release the fragrance of Christ.
Perhaps it is pride or false humility that tells me, You can’t seriously believe that what you have to say would change a life? But is it not God who draws a heart to salvation and not my works: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44)? I must simply obey and share His fragrance, the one He has developed for me.
Or perhaps it is the enemy of my soul that whispers to my spirit to stop something God wants done in me, and through me, for His glory. Ask yourself how many times the enemy has won this argument? I recall a time or two when I felt that I was at the end instead of the beginning. You will too, moments when you wanted to give up, certain there was nothing for you to offer.
What a delicate balance it is, for the Master Perfumer to create your perfect absolute, and then for you to release that fragrance of the Lord’s making!
French jasmine, the ingredient of the purest and most expensive perfumes, is the perfect picture of delicacy. It must be picked in the very early pre-dawn hours.
You might be waiting for a grand entrance on God’s stage, certain that all your experiences and learning moments are complete and prepared for great use to the Master Perfumer. Instead, He comes to the field before daybreak, before your blooms have opened to the dawn, before the exact moment you thought you were ready.
You see, the Master Perfumer knows when to harvest. He knows the process that follows: the crushing of the petals and bending of the stems, the mixing and purifying with heat and pressure, the measuring and testing for purity.
He knows if the absolute will be pure for use in perfume, or if the ingredients and adjusted process are worthy only of cologne. The Master Perfumer knows instantly the difference between quality, delicate, jasmine-based perfumes and inferior synthetic products.
Fragile jasmine petals are picked one by one. The harvesters have to be very careful in the deliberate handling of these precious petals. The petals are placed in a chestnut wooden container (basket) that is perfectly curved to fit the side of the harvester so as not to bruise the delicate petals during the harvest.
At the first whiff of French jasmine, you don’t really smell anything. But as you scoop it up and warm it with your hands, the fragrance is lifted and you take in its heavenly essence. In a similar manner, the warmth of God’s hand on us lifts up our absolute fragrance. I hope you are picturing your life in this process.
Jasmine is so delicate, as delicate as a spider web, but God knows how to stabilize its essence. There is an example found in the Bible in Job 8:14-15 that gives us a perfect word picture of a person who leans on a “spider web”. We all know that we are not stable leaning on a spider web, but how safe and unmovable it is to lean on God.
- Revelation 1:8, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
- Psalm 90:1-2, LORD, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.
Besides the most treasured element, jasmine, there are wild ingredients called the bottom notes which add to the depth of a perfume, things like moss, mushrooms, roots, resins, and the skin of fruit or varieties of wild flowers. Including the earthy ingredients, there are a total of 2,300 elements that can be used to create a beautiful fragrance. If you want to become a fragrance created only from the delicate varieties, like jasmine, you will miss all the bottom notes that give depth and sustainability. Which would you desire—moments, hours, days or years?
When the tomb of Egyptian King Tutankhamen was opened, the aroma from the vessels of oil burst into the air after 3,000 years. What a thought! The believers who have lived over these 2,000 plus years since Christ are like that aroma. They became a fragrance unto God and have spread everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him (2 Corinthians 2:14, NIV).
I want to be that kind of a generational link—a perfume that will be to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing (2 Corinthians 2:15, NIV). I want to be a witness that will ensure the knowledge of Christ will continue through whatever time God has allotted me to live on this earth. There are 250 fragrances that have already disappeared from the world. I don’t want God’s fragrance and my witness of Christ to disappear. 2 Corinthians 2:16 (NIV) asks the correct question: And who is equal to such a task? Are you?
The fragrance of the Lord depends on your heart being willing to submit to God’s process. Don’t soak yourself in the self-pity of a difficult life, or the insecurity of deciphering what God’s voice sounds like in your heart! I pray for an army of women who will wear the fragrance of Christ! Whatever your circumstances—singleness, wife, CEO, stay-at-home, police woman, or judge—put it on.
We walk in and out of people’s lives, in and out of rooms in the course of a day, and we leave either nothing or the fragrance of Christ in the memory of those who encountered us. We need but allow Jesus to cause all things to come back to mind regarding the knowledge of Him, and to bring that person to Himself. (Proverbs 22:6)
Jean-Paul Guerlain is the grandson of Jacques Guerlain who created the fragrance Shalimar. He shared an earthly proverb about the ability a fragrance has to recall a memory: “What is left of the most beautiful lady in the world…(when you are not in her presence)? You don’t see her hair…you don’t see her jewels or the beauty of her eyes. What is left? The feminine charms of her voice…and her perfume.”
Her voice is her testimony (story) of the knowledge of God. Her perfume is the fragrance of a surrendered life. These will remain. My challenge to you is to pursue God’s fragrance in you. Spread everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ! For when all is said and done, your fragrance lingers on.
Matthew 28:20 (MSG), “Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”
Unless indicated: Scriptures quoted from Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible NKJV AMG Publishers.